Giving the Devil His Due

Satan as depicted in Milton's Paradise Lost (Gustave Dore)

Satan as depicted in Milton’s Paradise Lost (Gustave Dore)

Statues are used to commemorate all sorts of things, including historical events, abstract concepts and values, influential figures, religions and more. Of course, a statue you may not expect to see is one that pays tribute to the true Dark Lord and fallen angel, Satan.

This is something that members of the Temple of Satan hope to change, though.

Representatives from the New York-based Satanic Temple recently submitted a proposal to officials in Oklahoma for a 7-foot statue to be erected at the state capitol, not far from where a statue of the Ten Commandments now stands. Their design—which is pretty creepy, even to someone as demented as me—depicts the goat-headed pagan idol Baphomet sitting atop a throne inscribed with an inverted pentagram. On each side of him is a child gazing upon him in wonder and adoration.

Personally, I think any kids who saw Baphomet coming towards them would run screaming in terror, but that’s just my opinion. Children raised by Satanists would likely handle it better.

The Baphomet statue design (Temple of Satan)

The Baphomet statue design (Temple of Satan)

According to Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, “the statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures” and will also have “a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

Not to mention eternal damnation, which I always equated with Satan and his fire-and-brimstone wonderland in Hell.

Unlike the Church of Satan, the Temple of Satan is less of a religious body—with its strange rituals, animal sacrifices and other stereotypically satanic features—and more like a “roving band of political provocateurs,” at least as Greaves explains it.  The group views Satan as more of a “literary construct.” Consider their mission statement, which can be found at their website by going HERE:

The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. In addition, we embrace practical common sense and justice. As Satanists we all should be guided by our conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity. As an organized religion, we feel it is our function to actively provide outreach, to lead by example, and to participate public affairs wheresoever the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights.

Granted, this statue proposal likely won’t fly in Oklahoma, a Bible Belt state where more than two-thirds of the population is Christian. And some Oklahoma lawmakers feel confident it will never grace their state capitol.

“Any monument displayed on state property should reflect the values of Oklahoma or memorialize those who built or defended our freedom,” Rep. Bob Cleveland said yesterday. “In my opinion, this Satanist monument does not meet with the values of Oklahomans.”

Rep. Paul Wesselhoft agreed and said that “what will disqualify them has really nothing to do with Satan as such; it’s that [the statue] has no historical significance for the state of Oklahoma.”

One could argue that a statue of the Ten Commandments also has no historical significance for Oklahoma. And oddly enough, the American Civil Liberties Union sued over what they called an “unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.” Until that lawsuit is resolved, though, no new statues will likely be permitted—especially one as scary as this!

The Ten Commandments statue at the Oklahoma State Capitol (Christian Science Monitor)

The Ten Commandments statue at the Oklahoma State Capitol (Christian Science Monitor)

This hasn’t stopped the Temple of Satan, though. On the website Indiegogo—a “crowd funding” website for projects in need of financial support—the group has already surpassed its $20,000 goal and the last time I checked, they were well over $22,000. Feel free to DONATE if you so desire.

In other words, someone out there wants this statue of Baphomet to happen. And though it kind of freaks me out a little, I still think this statue should be considered. America is all about freedom, and religious freedom has always been one of our top priorities. To me, this makes statues related to Christianity, Islam or even Satanism no different. If Christians are allowed to erect statues commemorating their religious beliefs, then other religions should have the same opportunity. Otherwise what we’re really doing is giving preferential treatment to one group while marginalizing another—and I’m sorry, but that is not the American Way… or at least it shouldn’t be.

No final decision about Baphomet has been made yet, but I for one hope it comes to pass. I don’t worship Satan, of course—or any other god or deity, for that matter—but I do believe in freedom. And that freedom, ladies and gentlemen, applies to all Americans… even those with whom we disagree.

Until next time, peace out and be good to each other, peeps!

Posted on January 8, 2014, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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